All posts by gbaugh

Coolest research for a story-anything to do with the great outdoors

“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more” 
~George Gordon Byron, 1788 – 1824~Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

May 3 Question: What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Hmmmm! Coolest… thing I researched are the birds, animals, and insects that live around me.  What interests me is the most fun to research.

You looking at me!
This guy is sitting on my rain gutter downspout.

Interested in Praying Mantis…check out this site from National Geographic Kids. 

 

Once I start searching out information, I found how nature is overlooked when it comes to the bottom dollar.  Those that have made a comeback; those still on the endangered species list; and those just living day to day, need our help.

Bee on Chicory in my yard 2016

I have met people who will give incorrect information to get their priorities pushed through.   And I have heard ‘fear talk’ of big businesses; how no one has the money to fight them. For the average person that is true. But once they connect with the correct people the chain strengthens.

Sorry, I am rambling and grumbling.

Once the weather starts to warm up, and the snows are scattered piles along windbreaks and at the base of evergreens, where the sun doesn’t reach. It is then that migratory birds  head back home, getting connected, searching out safe or so-so safe nesting areas.

That is when they start their mating dance. Songbirds dance on the ground weaving and bobbing, puffing out chest feathers and singing a song that echoes from the past.   Hawks; whose dance swims high above us, diving and circling repeating their secrets, screeched out longer family litanies; impressing each other with their pedigree.

Turkey Vulture in my yard spring 2017

Then, there are the bees… I saw an article where the ‘rusty-patched bumblebee, a species on the brink of extinction’ stopped construction of a four-lane, 5-mile toll road and a four-lane Fox River bridge crossing.’ As I read about those bees, a Bumble was busy knocking against my kitchen window; letting me know I have been seen.

Morning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) Hanging out by the garden 2016

Spring’s warm sun brings out insects and new plant growth…I can go on and on. Nature is so cool. Researching Mother Nature is so much fun.

Oh, before I forget, let me add the weirdest- animal scat. Come on, I know you want to click that link for animal scat. 

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” ~John Muir

Illinois endangered lists:

https://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/lists/illinois-cty.html

http://rainforests.mongabay.com/endangered/charts/birds-falcons.html

https://www.fws.gov/MIDWEST/Endangered/insects/index.html

 

JAMES PATTERSON VIDEO LESSON 22 Closing MASTERCLASS.COM

Video lesson 22: Closing

 

This is James Patterson’s last video lesson- lesson 22.  I will give you a smidgeon of his closing talk. This video is only a mere three minutes and seventeen seconds. It is well worth the pep talk. I listened to it at least three times, so far.

Lesson 22 -Closing

I love this part:

“People get into –this is the way it’s been, here’s the rules of writing,- here’s the rules of literature, here’s the rules – who said? Really! God does not come down and lay down the twenty-commandments of writing a story- and just because it‘s been done in a certain way forever –does not necessarily mean it’s right.

“And- also means- don’t walk away from what’s been done. But, also you don’t have to follow blindly. Things change we do new shit.” ~ James Patterson Lesson 22

My take on this has to do with my journey.  My search for the correct way to say something, the correct way to express an emotion or the theme or just to get into the head of my characters using a slightly different twist.

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Now, that is all fine and good, to get a point across or teach something in a new way. I may need to see it from different perspectives. Some of those perspectives have had me crossing my eyes and confused me for weeks, even years. Until I read it from a different point of view, eventually I can see their point.

“I am peculiar, obviously. And that peculiarity has had its rewards. So I share things with you and you have to pick what’s going to be relevant to you.”~ James Patterson 

If I take  ‘just one thing’ from James Patterson’s Masterclass (James Patterson Teaches Writing @masterclass.com) it would be this:  ‘just write’- (lesson 7: “get that outline out!”) And yes! Others have used that very phrase.  Except, they weren’t James Patterson.

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James Patterson’s  video lessons were made to inspire you to write. So get inspired and write a best seller, or just something for your family or just for you. You can’t please everyone, so might as well please yourself. Oh, does that last sentence sound like a double entendre?

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Mr. Patterson’s Masterclass.com gives you an added benefit of postings, comments, contests, and even a FaceBook page to help you keep up with the goings on with all the Patterson fans.

This Masterclass.com doesn’t end here. I have been going back to the lessons; listening again and again to the videos, grabbing a bit of James Patterson’s advice that I can.

I will use his lessons to smash through writer’s block.

{{HEAVY SIGH}}

I may need to keep Patterson’s Masterclass.com videos playing on a loop.

“Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.” ~Emile Coué

My cat is trying to use hypnosis to get me to write daily.

FaceBook:  https://www.facebook.com/JamesPatterson/

Twitter:  www.twitter.com/JP_Books

Or here on BookShots

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group March

It’s that time again, the first Wednesday of the Month

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

“Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.”

March 1 Question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

I have thought about it-pulling out an old piece and reworking it. Something always comes up; a new idea or project and I move forward not looking back. I have to admit- I have a piece I have been working on forever.

(In my head  I  hear “forever” sounding like a teen trying to get out of washing their clothes.. Do I have to! ! Double exclamation point with an extra dangling whine. )

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I have a lot of unfinished pieces. For one reason or another I just can’t find their endings. Those never really get done. I can’t seem to get close to the mid-point. Once I hit that rising action all my characters start falling off Freytag’s pyramid. I find that simple line isn’t enough to hold them, they start dangling by their toes….then the whole thing gets pushed back in its folder, stuffed in the back of a drawer or hidden between the pages of a book on writing.

 

I was told once, that I wrote too fast… and to slow up so I could think about what I was writing. That was the worst advice to give to anyone.  Writing and getting that story out is the most important part- at least for me- once I have my thoughts on paper, then the real writing and rewriting starts. But, it has to be on paper. Not in my head! Not swimming in a fog of ideas, for once that fog clears, I can end up with ‘nothing’. Pooof!

I have been reading Stephen King’s, The Dark Tower series. In the introduction for the first book, The Gunslinger, King tells how long and to what extent, he had been working on this book and how he got the idea in the first place. He read J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings in 1966-67, which sparked his wanting to write his “own kind of story.”

Stephen King said, that when he writes, “his method of attack” is to “plunge in and go a fast as I can” and “…keeping the edge of my narrative blade as sharp as possible by constant use, and trying to outrun the novelist’s most insidious enemy, which is doubt. Looking back prompts too many questions: How believable are my characters? How interesting is my story? How good is this, really? Will anyone care? Do I care myself?”
Then he goes on to say: “I put it away, warts and all, to mellow. Some period of time later six months, a year, two years,…” Then adding, “…I come back to it with a cooler (but still loving) eye, and begin the task of revising.”

 

So pulling out old stories and reworking them is on my list for 2017. Time can only sharpen my eyes, and my ability to tell that story with a slightly different twist.

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Rare Disease Day -Hypothyroidism

Today is #RareDiseaseDay.

 

http://www.rarediseaseday.org

 

Okay, everyone!  Don’t get all excited and try to get to the head of the line. They aren’t giving out samples…lucky you. But they are acknowledging …pain. 

 

Most people don’t know that I was born with a genetic illness.  I considered myself lucky.  When I was born, my genetic illness kept turning on and off.  My body was able to grow, and it did with a lot of pain. In the 1960s unknown diseases were considered ‘all in your head.’  That made me angry.  Angry that no one listened. So I stopped talking about my pain. I was barely four years old when I stopped complaining and stood away from walls and ran. I ran from my pain.

 

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What is my illness?

 Hypothyroidism. I was born with it. It affected my ability to walk, until I learned to ignore the pain. ( And yes! That can be done, especially with young children; pain will become the norm.)  I would hold onto walls, sit on the stairs and move slowly up or down, navigating one step at a time. I learned to pretend I wasn’t in pain. To pretend that I didn’t feel like biting ants were crawling under my skin or my head wasn’t about to explode or that the bones in my legs didn’t feel like my flesh was being shaved off or that time hadn’t just moved away from me, and I didn’t know where I was.

 

When my body turned on; my thyroid would decide to work. I would play catch up in school. Passing tests and watching where I stepped and walked, mainly ran, from the school to home. I grew up on the Westside of Chicago. So ignoring what was around me could be deadly. I grew up with those riots of the 60’s and I saw racial or rather ethnic tensions. The color of your skin defined who you were thought to be.  All the while, my skin felt like it was being carved off my bones.

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What kept me going was a simple phrase: “But, for the grace of God, go I.” I went to church every Wednesday for catechism and every Sunday morning mass at Our Lady of the Angels church.

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I read a lot of books, stories,  and encyclopedias; any books I could get my hands on  I read over and over. When I was in high school the pain took over my hands. At that time, I was an art major at Lane Tech high school.

I married young, had two children; my second pregnancy I stayed on the couch for seven months….praying.

I wasn’t diagnosed until I was in my early thirties. And then I remember the doctor getting close up to my face and asking how I was still moving. I had barely any thyroid hormone in my body; I should have been in a coma.

Ah, “But, for the grace of God, go I.”

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That doctor saved my life, Dr. Paloyan; he believed in my pain, and he gave me a pill that opened up the world for me. It was as if the wind moved inside me and the pain was being swept out. I went through two cancer surgeries over the next eight years. And for the rest of my life, I have yearly check-ups. But… I have a life.

We need to support rare disease research.

http://www.rarediseaseday.org

 

Genetic testingFulgent Therapeutics LLC

 

James Patterson video lesson 21 Personal Story Masterclass.com

James Patterson starts this video with this:

“I don’t think I ever had aspirations in terms of, One begin writer or Secondly- what would happen with it. It just seemed to me, to be- overstepping to do that. I came from a background, that was- people just didn’t make it out of my hometown. I was never a stylist as a writer and I am still not. So I don’t I don’t think I ever expected that things would happen, and I still don’t, I mean, I don’t think about it. I don’t think about selling a lot of books or supposedly I am the best-selling author in the world, I love that. But I don’t think about it.”

Picture by: Daniel Case

Where it all started

 

James Patterson grew up in  Newberg, New York, a tough little river town, 60 miles north of New York City. A mix of City kids, farm kids, and kids from the air force base, that have been all around the world. “A nice mix of different kind of ways of looking at stuff.” ~James Patterson

His father was brought up in the Newberg poor house was called the Pogey.   His mother was a charwoman – she cleaned up the bathrooms for the poor people. His father went to Hamilton College, “a very good college.”  His mother was a schoolteacher for 50 years.

He went to catholic schools. In high school, if he didn’t have his homework done he got hit in his face. (And yes, that did happen) College and Advertising were nothing to how difficult high school was. James shrugged  and said,  “big deal, nobody is hitting you”

His grandmother was a very strong woman who would tell him what he couldn’t do and then add, “But there are a lot of things you can do… you could do a lot of things” She built up his confidence.

Why James Chose Writing

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He started scribbling at nineteen- he loved writing stories. He liked fast past stories.

The Thomas Berryman Number first book: he said, that book doesn’t have a good pace.

The Thomas Berryman won: Edgar Award for Best First Novel by an American Author, Edgar Award for Best First Mystery.

The height Of Success

One of the exciting things is seeing your books in a bookstore.

Family

James tells us that family comes first. Do the right thing as much as you can. The only time his father hugged him was on his deathbed. He hugs his own son every chance he can.

Balance

James, tells us he finds things he likes and does them. He loves to write. He loves his wife and son he likes to be with very good friends. He loves what he doing.

James Patterson said,  “he try’s not to do boring things.”

This classes contest is open now until March 1, 2017.  If you are interested- click on the link in the top left sidebar the one with James Patterson’s picture on it. 

20th James Patterson Masterclass.com Video Lesson Hollywood

It has taken me a while to get to lesson 20; time flies, flu happens over and over, add in stress, which takes away everything, and there you have a jump in time, forward and away, from when I was supposed to post this.

Lucky for me I can jump in my time machine and you will be looking at the date posted, scratching your head and wondering what I am talking about… With this strange intro finished here is Lesson 20.

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HOLLYWOOD

James Patterson starts with a long exhale and makes a sound like his doctor is checking his tonsils. Sort of like this… Ahhhhhhhh!

 

James Patterson looks down and to the left, scratches the right side of his head above his ear with his right pinky finger then he looks up at the camera and says to someone off camera: “Before I answer this I gotta take a shot.” He picks up a glass, raises it slightly towards the camera, and tosses back his drink; turns his head to the right, shakes his head, eyes closed tight and makes a heavier more harsh, “Auhhh” sound, as the sharpness of the drink slides down his throat. Then he turns towards the camera, blinks a couple of times, staring straight ahead and bitterly says,   “Hollywood!”

https://www.masterclass.com

 

In this lesson, we are told, by James Patterson that when Hollywood comes-ah-knocking it is wonderful, they are wonderful, that …“Knock, Knock it’s Hollywood” is an amazing thing to hear,-they want your book. You can’t believe how nice they will be… then he adds; “it’s all lies”

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He tells us that it is the best thing, and you are lucky when they start shooting your movie. That once it happens, enjoy it and don’t take it all too seriously.

“The novelist ranks below the caterer on a movie shoot- they know why the cater is there they have no idea why the novelist is there”…

Now, if that were me, I would be checking out that appetizing catering cart. I would be there for that Caterer. I would be wondering what was on his cart, mentally picking out what I can’t eat, counting calories and centering in on the salads or fruit.

Hmmmm! That pretend movie set in my mind, where I can eat anything …and still I will gain weight. (Oh!  Stop whining and get back to lesson 20 and James Patterson) 

James Patterson tells us, that his best Hollywood experience was guest starring on the Simpsons, March 4, 2007, in “Yokel Chords” which is the fourteenth episode of the eighteenth season of The Simpsons He was riding a white horse across a beach in Marge’s fantasy.

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Simpsons, March 4, 2007, in “Yokel Chords”

Speaking of Hollywood and having your novel made into a screenplay Mr. Patterson said. “Just laugh at this stuff better have a sense of humor if you are going it sell it out there.” Great advice!

You can listen to this lesson at MasterClass.com and hear more of what he has to say about Hollywood and editors, and agents, just click on the link; top left.

Here are previous lessons.

 

What can ‘you’ do for the United States of America?

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When my great-great- grandparents came to this wonderful country they weren’t running away from something; they were heading towards something, they were willing to fight for their freedom, fight for ‘a united’, United States Of America, they believed in freedom; real freedom ‘Not’ where someone else stood up for them, but that they had the right to stand up for themselves; freedom to make a living, a family, be a part of America and give back to America not just in paying taxes but in their lives. Here a dream keeps us going; a dream of peace, prosperity, and safety without thought, jobs for citizens, building a place without hatred and hardship. They believed in that right to grab a soapbox and stand on it and speak their mind.

Yes, some would laugh, but all would give them that right to speak it.

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Just because we all don’t agree on the same things, that line you see right at your feet, you drew, you drew it when you said that my words are better than yours; that my ideals are wrong and yours are right; that what you see here -is not -what you want…

You won’t be real about moving forward and changing what you don’t like. Instead, you insult instead of talk; you put down the person next to you for having a different opinion; that difference is why we all live here, America is about being different, about listening to those differences and making choices…Choices to make a real change… and violence won’t do that when your standing in my house, our house, our home, our country.

https://www.pexels.com/photo/flag-america-patriotic-veteran-6895/

Remember that those new people who show up on our borders are bringing with them the violence that they said they left behind. (Yes, I know you hate to hear that) It is ingrained in their views of the world. Just like my great-great- grandparents they had to learn a new way to speak out loud. Out loud ‘and’ find the position or a person in the right position, to help them change what they think should be changed, without stepping on the rights and security of the people living here now.

 

I am repeating that last line, just in case you missed it: “without stepping on the rights and security of the people living here now.”

https://pixabay.com/en/constitution-united-states-usa-62943/

Has anyone thought; maybe the people in charge of our safety know something we don’t? Are you the child that runs into the street even when your parents told you cars can run over you; hurt you; even kill you? I hear you, the government isn’t your parents they don’t own you (like some other countries) they can’t make you do anything you don’t want to…but, if something falls through your roof or water sweeps away your home, do you call out for help? And playing in traffic is illegal!

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You called for a change; when change really showed up it scared the shit out of you.

Has it been that long that you forgot your great-great- grandparents and that look of pride that they were in America; they were Americans! And no one could take that from them ever again.


It took you a long time to get here. Yeah, you! You with the signs, showing off your sex to the world; you who thinks that freedom is free; you who loves your privacy when you’re feeling ill; you who wants what you want without even thinking how it got here; you who are dissing the people who are keeping you safe and tossing blame when you don’t want to accept your own part in this; this wonderful country of ours….

What are you really pissed off at?

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I’m talking to you. What do you believe in? What do you stand up for? What is freedom mean to you? What are you proud of? What really is going on…and I mean the ‘Real’ news and have you checked it out or just posted-posted- and posted because so many like-minded people …liked it?

We live with poverty, hunger, disease; a place where people are lonely, suicidal, scared where they pray for change and a person to hear them call out. Where the elderly are ignored, the jobless loose their homes and if they are lucky they live in their cars until something new comes up. Violence against people who are different: violence against children; violence against animals; violence against our planet. Were the news is fabricated to appease the masses and we worry about evil appearing on their doorsteps; and that is just here in the USA.

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The world isn’t shrinking; humans are expanding. And the world is shaking under the weight of all those meat suits.

 

And here you are, because your family came here, instead of going to one of those ‘seven’ countries; those seven countries that would take your freedom, your home, the soil you stand, on your life. I am not saying they won’t be trying; they will try…

No, you didn’t go there or stay there, you came here hoping that your adopted country is looking out for you; keeping you safe and rich.

Hang on a minute my lunch is ready…Mmmm! I love bacon.

Here’s a question for you. Yeah, you! What can the United States of America do for you?  Not those million dollar comments; streets paved in gold, freedom to be an asshat ….yadi-yadi-ya.


A thought out answer to intensely hard questions, no bitching and moaning, I know it is your right, so go on a bitch! First answer one question. Come on I know your head is hurting, but…

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“What can ‘you’ do for the United States of America?”

“What can you contribute?”  

“What do you want to do with your life?”

Photo are from Pexels.com & clipartfest.com & Flickr.com & The pooping troll, he’s mine.

 

Insecure Writer’s Support Group question of the month

Here I go again, I just realized today is the first Wednesday of the month. And I am getting this in by the skin of my teeth….

http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

“Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.”

Now, my answer to this month’s question:

February 1 Question: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

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I find myself picking apart stories; making notes of the characters; even copying down descriptions and idiosyncrasies that make them believable or unique.

I start wondering if I could have done something differently; if my adaptation would have changed that story on its ear or would it have fallen flat.

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I look up places, just to see if they are real. I end up looking up the author to see if he or she lives/lived in that area. Here, I   find that the soul of the writer comes out in their words and their imagined world.

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Writer’s truth or their reality, their secrets, their wishes, and dreams; even their nightmares will show through if you look deep enough.

I just read a short story by Willa Cather. So much in-between her words, so many beautiful phrases and images. From her, I have learned to be myself because no one else can be.

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group-January Blog Post

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group

 http://www.alexjcavanaugh.com/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

January 4 Question: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard? ~TheIWSG

There isn’t a writing rule that I wished to have never heard of: whenever someone mentions rules, I tend to fall asleep….

I have found that the more I read and delve into an idea; even those rules become more convoluted. I have a need to bricoler (tinker) inside those flow of words, meld with the colors, feel the whispers and to see how those rules were (are) played with by artists and writers, to see how they used them or didn’t.

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I wonder if I missed the rules on writing this post…

Truth be told, I believe that all rules need to be broken. Every red button labeled ’don’t press’ needs to be pressed just so I can see what would happen: a rainbow car tumbles out a Clown Alley of critics with their trusty red markers, taking it out on my imagination.

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I got past worrying about state of being verbs. Stumbled over commas, I add one every time I exhale; is that worse than using none. Or counting every ‘the’ … twelve,  just saying.

I started wondering about the path that forks out towards a Quotidian world or Balzacian or Bourgeois, let’s not forget Jamesian and Metaleptic telling or told. I started scratching my head over Metaphysics to show existence, then wiggling over to Ontology: straining to hear Social Realism whispering in dark corners. A few shakes of empty soup cans, rattling with dried peas, a sorry imitation of bongo drums. All the while looking confused at the honing steel hanging out in Kitchen Sink scenes, pointing down the hall to the fogged up mirrors of Romanticism.

The best or maybe my grandparent’s favorite was ‘bathtub gin’ it helped them not to worry about rules.

 

Insecure Writer’s Support Group – December’s Blog Post

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I just stumbled onto the IWSG -Insecure Writer’s Support Group- the Blog hop. The point is to write a blog post that will point back at the IWSG and all the other writers who post the first Wednesday of each month for the next year.

I just saw this so I am squeaking in under the wire; for me, it is nearly 10pm.

“December 7 Question: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?” IWSG

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I participated in NaNoWriMo, joined writers groups, entered contests, wrote for myself and decided to write a novel. That novel was slipped back on the shelf and labeled ‘next year’ after a couple of accidents, family issues and health problems. I even stopped adding to my  blog a few years back.

Now…today, this moment I am back to writing for myself. That novel I want and ‘need’ to finish, that book of poetry (with its muffled screams) needs to be compiled, while I develop organization skills (can you hear the laughter) finish classes and read the books I have piled around me hoping that their words, all those hours their writer’s sweated, bemoaned and worried over, will rub off on me.

In five years I want to have written a novel a year. Posted on my blog every week. Gain so many twitter followers that one of my tweets will go to millions. (Wait I should read the rule on this post again- dreams and desires…nope!   Insight, yes, I can see this under insight-lets keep with that.)

Today, I  will start with this first step;  release self-doubt and write daily.

IWSG